Skip to main content

Design Your Own Major

Student presents poster during session in Upper Tarble

Creative, independent, and interdisciplinary-focused Swarthmore students may design their own special major. In some areas, such as astrophysics, biochemistry, chemical physics, language and linguistics, and neuroscience, there are already curricula in place, developed by previous students and supported by the faculty. In other cases, students, working with their faculty mentors, take the initiative to define their own distinct academic program. Examples of individualized programs of study include majors in ethnomusicology, health and social policy, urban studies, and technology and the human experience.

Like traditional majors, special majors typically require at least 10, and no more than 12, courses that, when considered holistically, provide the student with a rich, cohesive, and comprehensive understanding of the chosen topic. To demonstrate their mastery of the topics, all majors—including special majors—must fulfill a comprehensive requirement to graduate. This requirement may be fulfilled by a thesis, comprehensive examination, or other project approved by the student’s faculty adviser.

The Registrar’s Office has information about the development of and application process for special majors.